by: James Kennedy
Jo Larouche has lived her thirteen years in the California desert with her Aunt Lily, a faded Hollywood starlet, ever since she found in Lily’s laundry room with this note pinned to her blankets: This is Jo. Please take care of her. But beware. This is a DANGEROUS baby.
Up until this point, Jo has been, as Aunt Lily puts it, “as dangerous as a glass of milk.” But all that’s about to change. At Lily’s annual Christmas costume party, several strange things happen: a boy in a hedgehog shoots an elderly Russian colonel; a talking cockroach is found tied up in the basement, moaning about how this will play in the tabloid press; and a box falls from the sky, addressed to Jo from “The Order of Odd-Fish.”
Soon, worsening circumstances lead Jo and Lily out of California forever—and into the mysterious, strange, fantastical world of Eldritch City. There, Jo learns the scandalous truth about who she is, and she and Lily join the Order of Odd-Fish, a colorful collection of knights who research useless information. Glamorous cockroach butlers, impossible quests, obsolete weapons and bizarre festivals fill their days, but Jo’s dream turns to nightmare when she learns that instead of a hero of Eldritch City, she may in fact become its destroyer. By the novel’s wrenching climax, Jo comes to understand who she truly is—and what it means to call a city home.
Equal parts Monty Python and Roald Dahl, The Order of Odd-Fish is an entertaining and hilarious ride through a world that readers will not want to leave. (from Jameskennedy.com)
This was a great book. To be honest, I had never heard of it a few weeks ago, but then I attended the Teen Book Fest in Rochester and had the good fortune of seeing author James Kennedy on the new author panel. After several hours of wonderful, but not overly exciting presentations, Kennedy hit the nail on the head as he got up for his reading and gave quite the performance. He got the audience, primarily teens with a few adults sprinkled in, to participate by cheering (or booing) along as was warranted. Then he described his main character as the opposite of Harry Potter- instead of the boy who lived, she is the girl who kills; instead of the one who will save them all, she is the one who will destroy everything. Just like that I knew I had to buy this book (so it was back to the bookstore for me). I definitly wasn't dissapointed.
There is so much in this book that there is no way I could give a proper review and catch everything that was great. So I'll stick to the highlights. At the heart of the story is Jo, an orphan who grew up with her Aunt Lily in the California desert. She waiteresses tables and tries to keep her aunt under control, and generally lives a pretty boring life. Then it all flips upside down and she finds herself on an adventure to Eldritch City with her aunt, a Russian General and a Cockroach butler. Once in Eldrtich City she finds herself in the Order of Odd-Fish, a group of knights who study rather unimportant knowledge (like smells) and learns that her birth nearly brought down the entire world. Now she has to keep her true identity a secret while everyone around her is looking for the girl who will destroy all of them. Add in crazy quests, rediculous festivals and parties, a tv show that feeds the paranoia about Jo's true identity, a would be villian and a real villian named the Belgian Prankster and you have a story that never slows down and keeps you wanting more.
Now that I've written what probably reads as a slightly confusing and strange recap of the book, all I can really tell you is that you should go read this book. It takes a really basic coming of age story about a girl trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be and flips it on it's head. Kennedy creates an absurd world that is full of odd, disgusting, hilarious and dangerous characters and gives us a story that you won't want to put down. It has adventure and laughs and what more can you really ask for? It's a great summer reading book, so go grab a copy and enjoy!
As always- check out Kennedy's website and if you get a chance to see Kennedy live, take it, it's totally worth it!